Internet tools make for easy communication and facilitate dating within the disabled or special needs community

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Whether dating another disabled or special needs person or an able-bodied person, talk to each other and find out what arrangements need to be made.

By showing your partner you can communicate comfortably about the "sensitive" subject of your disability, you are opening the door for more intimate conversations.

Dating4Disabled was developed by a group of volunteers who wanted to provide more social, intellectual and romantic outlets for people with disabilities.

This growing community has become a gathering place for the international special needs population, home to members from over 15 countries world-wide.

It is a place for people of all nationalities, backgrounds and life-challenges to share, connect and just be heard.

The Dating4Disabled environment is welcoming and user-friendly. Advanced internet tools make for easy communication, and facilitate a convenient and fun way to create connections within the disabled community.

Members can come together through forums, a dating service, private chats, and blogs, among other features, providing people with mobility issues the opportunity to fulfill their social needs from the convenience of their own home.

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The site has also incorporated large font options and supporting icon comments to assist the visually challenged.

The members of Dating4Disabled can network internationally in an understanding, safe and non-committal atmosphere. This unique cyberspace community facilitates an embarrassment-free opportunity for people with disabilities to express themselves, make friends, and hopefully find a partner for life, with out the pressure of uncertain face-to-face meetings. The support and understanding available in the dating4disabled family makes for an exciting new "home away from home".

Our free membership is simple and quick. In the 2 minute sign-up, people create a profile which tailors their online preferences and enables other members to know more about them and what they are looking for. One can customize their interactions by type of relationship, life-challenge, location, interests and more.

All these tools and features provide an enjoyable and valuable online experience. The potential for net-working, meeting new people and creating relationships is unlimited. Dating4Disabled provides its members with the opportunity to utilize the World Wide Web for their own unique needs, and to open windows of possibility to the international disabled community.

For more information, contact Erin Shamberg erin@dating4disabled.com or visit us at http://www.dating4disabled.com

Helpful Hints for Meeting Online

Safety-wise, meeting on the Net is inherently similar to meeting offline. As long as the same standard dating precautions are followed, cyber-savvy daters can feel truly at ease while getting to know each other. The main thing to remember: trust your instincts and use common sense just as you would offline.

Remember that you are in control of your online experience at all times. You can remain completely anonymous until you feel ready.
 
You are also in control when it comes to taking an online relationship offline. Plus, you have an advantage online because you can get to know each other before you meet. Remember that you don't need to take anything further than the computer or phone wires until you feel completely at ease. Proceed at your own pace!
 
When you do decide to meet face to face, pick a public place and provide your own transportation to and fro. Tell a friend where you're going and check in when you return home.
 
Never include your personal contact information in your profile, especially telephone numbers, email, home address or your last name, and only give them out when your instincts tell you this is someone you can trust. It's okay to take your time.
 
Set up an email account just for online dating.
 
Ask a lot of questions and watch for inconsistencies.
 
Stay away from members who won't take no for an answer or pressure you for any kind of personal information. Other singles will respect your space and allow you to take your time.
 
If someone asks you to go to their personal website or asks you for money, use common sense not to oblige and then report the situation to us.
 
If someone gives you a phone number with a strange area code, check it out to make sure it's not a charge number before you make the call.
 
Using your own good judgment is your best bet, because ultimately you are responsible for your own experience. Trust your instincts and then have fun with the right people!

Please report any suspicious members, messages or postings to Dating4Disabled immediately. This will ensure your safety and the safety of other members.

For your safety, all public Dating4Disabled correspondence is monitored daily, and member profiles are scanned for fraudulent information. Dating4Disabled uses advanced screening technology, as well as daily manual filtering in order to avoid "preditors" from entering the site.

Talking About Disability on a Date

Discussing your disabilities on a date can be difficult: your new partner is probably curious about the extent of your sexual abilities. Can you have intercourse? What special needs do you have? What are your limits or particular talents?

The hardest part of this conversation can be deciding when to have it. How does one lead into the subject? Do you talk about disability at the onset of the first date, or wait until the second, third or fourth meeting?

People living with disabilities tend to worry about saying too much or not saying enough. Place these feelings of anxiety aside! Discussion about a person's disability typically comes up naturally within conversation. For example, a conversation could begin around a modified van, a Seeing Eye dog, the use of sign language or a prosthetic device or mobility aide. When these subjects arise, respond honestly and openly to questions, and your prospective partner will understand you are comfortable discussing your disability.

Ironically, while you are worrying about how and when to bring up the limits imposed by your disability, your date is no doubt struggling with questions, afraid of offending you, but wanting information. For example, your date may wonder what arrangements need to be made to accommodate your disability during an evening out. Can you walk a few steps unaided, or do you require your wheelchair at all times? Are you comfortable with having a menu read to you, or would you prefer to dine only in restaurants that offer Braille menus?

If he or she is unfamiliar with dating a disabled or special needs person, as many people are the first time they do so, your date may simply blurt out, "What is your disability, and what do I need to do to arrange a date?" Although some individuals feel comfortable with this direct approach, others may not know how to respond to such a remark. Be compassionate, and try not to get offended. Remember, your date is simply trying to ensure you both enjoy yourselves.

It is important to remember that these questions also come up when two people with disabilities date each other. Contrary to popular belief, the disabled are not all alike—we do have questions about our friends and dating partners with different types of disabilities.
Given the uneasiness that can surface, here are some helpful hints for people with disabilities, as well as for their able-bodied and disabled or special needs dating partners.

Discuss your disability, don't lecture an audience.

Treat a date like any other social situation. Talk about your disability as it naturally occurs in conversation. If you are asked directly about it, answer with details that are informative, but don't launch into a 30-minute speech about your condition. If this date turns into a more serious relationship, you'll find plenty of time to discuss the specifics of your disability.

Talk from a script.

If you feel ill at ease discussing your disability, think about what you may want to say ahead of time. Sometimes people practice with a friend how they plan to discuss their disability. If you prefer to practice alone, use a tape recorder or even a mirror to get an idea about how you come across and what words bolster your confidence.

Plan your response to questions.

If it makes you feel better, think about what you might say if you were asked directly about your disability. Some people have a standard response they always give to questions; for example, someone may say, "I am deaf and this is why my speech may seem different to you." Some people may want to take this a step further and say, "I have 20% hearing ability in my right ear, so if you sit on my left side, I think we'll have a more enjoyable conversation." Think about what feels right to you, and go for it!

Talk about your dating partner's disability.

Creating an environment open to discussion helps the person with the disability feel a sense of power over a potentially uncomfortable situation. Try something like, "I'm not sure if you feel comfortable answering this question, but I was wondering if you would mind discussing your disability?" This phrasing gives the person with a disability the choice of whether or not they'd choose to engage in these issues, and shows him or her you are comfortable discussing the matter.

Refrain from asking overly personal questions on the first date.

One often assumes that it is acceptable to ask people with disabilities very personal questions. For example, it is not uncommon for people to be asked, "How do you go to the bathroom?" "How do you shower?" or "Can you have sex?" While many of us think that it is not unreasonable to ask for such personal information, it is important to keep in mind that people with disabilities are entitled to the same amount of privacy as anyone else.

Here are other dating and relationship resources for people with disabilities

* Beautyability
Helping people with disabilities realize they can become beautiful, sexual, and proud; no matter their ability.

* Disabled Dating through D.A.W.N.
D.A.W.N. is an acronym that stands for Differently Abled Winner's Network. More than an internet dating service, it is a true introduction service or matchmaking service that uses an extensive questionnaire and a personal or telephone interview to achieve a high success rate in matching people. D.A.W.N. was designed primarily to provide dating for people with disabilities, but welcomes able bodied members who would like to meet compatible people who happen to have a disability. D.A.W.N. is not restricted to any one disability, but accepts all physically and mentally challenged individuals, providing disabled dating or, as D.A.W.N. Director Wendy Wolf likes to say, a differently abled dating service.

* LoveByrd
Virtual community for disabled or special needs adults seeking love, friendship and support -  for all singles who live with a condition that makes it more difficult for them to meet others, whether you use the term disabled, differently abled, challenged, handicapped or you prefer not to classify your condition using any of the standard terms, if you are looking to meet fun, friendly singles for friendship or dating, looking for a place online where you can interact with others facing similar situations in life, looking for a place where you can share your thoughts freely in a discussion forum or chat room where other users are themselves disabled singles; then introduce yourself by joining our community.

* Disabled dating by DAWN - Disabled dating by D.A.W.N.: Differently Abled Winner's Network, an introduction matchmaking service primarily, but not exclusively, for people with disabilities.

* Disabled dating service - Dating4disabled - online community for disabled. - Dating4disabled - online community for disabled or special needs population is an online community which offers personal blogs, discussion forums, private chat, a dating service and more.